The Methuselah Foundation is one of the oldest of the present generation of organizations focused on advancing human rejuvenation, founded more than 15 years ago. At that time there was none of the present enthusiasm for treating aging as a medical condition, and indeed the concept was mocked outside the scientific community and actively discouraged within research circles by leading scientists in the field of gerontology. The Methuselah Foundation and its network of allies are a large part of the reason why things have changed: it took a great deal of work to change this dismissive culture into one that saw and embraced the potential of rejuvenation biotechnology.
Now that there is, finally, a nascent industry focused on the treatment of aging, the Methuselah Foundation has become more involved in funding companies and promoting their efforts via the Methuselah Fund. At the present time, this is one of the best uses for philanthropic funding - to help seed a much greater flow of capital into the longevity industry, to enable the first companies to thrive and demonstrate the efficacy of their approaches. (The other best use being, of course, to push forward the numerous promising rejuvenation research projects that continue to languish in academia for lack of attention). The latest update from the Methuselah Foundation, arriving in my in-box a few days ago, covers some of the highlights from Methuselah Fund portfolio companies.
Methuselah Fund has found success by investing in the longevity field when almost no one else was willing to take the risk. The M Fund has proved to be an invaluable resource in our efforts to put mission first and money second. M Fund continues to perform well and plans for a second Fund are currently underway. The Methuselah Fund hopes to continue to guide investments into the winners of the longevity field for many years to come.
New Parts for People: Volumetric
Incubated by the Methuselah Foundation, Volumetric was featured on the cover of Science Magazine in May 2019 due to their technological breakthrough. Their proprietary light-based 3D bio-printers and bio-inks represent a 10x leap in speed and 5x leap in resolution compared to legacy bio-printing methods, making them a leading competitor for the NASA Tissue Engineering Prize. In September 2019, the Vascular Tissue Challenge, managed by the Methuselah Foundation for NASA, entered its final phase of the project. By the end of September 2019, a total of 21 teams successfully completed their trial applications after the last Vascular Tissue Challenge Summit hosted at NASA Ames Research Center. Three teams have been approved to move into the final Trial Phase of the Challenge. Another five teams are in a second round of review with the judging committee and are nearing approval of their trials. We are looking forward to an exciting year with upcoming Vascular Tissue Challenge trials taking place to mark a renaissance in bioengineering of thick tissues.
Curing Alzheimer's disease: Leucadia Study Results
Leucadia Therapeutics discovered a major trigger for Alzheimer's disease pathology and has developed a patented strategy to correct that condition. Leucadia's patented Arethusta technology restores cerebrospinal fluid flow across the cribriform plate, improving the clearance of toxic metabolites from the earliest regions of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer's disease. Leucadia will soon pursue FDA approval for clinical trials. Before that, however, they will finish a 2,000-person cribriform plate imaging study called Project Cribrose by mid-2020. One exciting and more immediate development is that Leucadia has created a diagnostic algorithm using sophisticated machine learning technology. Project Cribrose will optimize and enhance this algorithm so that Leucadia can start providing a diagnostics tool to find out a patient's likelihood of developing Alzheimer's.
Anti-aging Drugs: Oisín Bio Human Trial
Oisín is pursuing a scientifically sound, targeted approach that may have the potential to address the biological underpinnings of some of society's most devastating age-related diseases by addressing the damage created by the aging process itself. In preclinical studies, the company's investigational therapeutics have significantly reduced senescent cell burden in naturally aged mice and extended median lifespan by more than 20% even when the treatment was started in old age. The company has advanced studies in non-human primates and has spun out another company, OncoSenX to prove the platform and technology in one indication, cancer. This company was formed with an original grant from the Methuselah Foundation to use Oisín Bio's technology to target prostate cancer. The project was a success and the company is targeting starting phase 1 trials in Canada this year.
Reversing Aging by Reprogramming Cells: Turn Bio
Turn Bio has developed a technology capable of safely reprogramming how DNA functions epigenetically, which is paving the way to a potentially translatable strategy for in-vivo and ex-vivo cell rejuvenation treatments. They are also developing interventions that are focused on treating skin rejuvenation, osteoarthritis, and muscular diseases. Turn Bio has successfully achieved in situ delivery in multiple tissues, such as in muscles, eyes, and brain. They are also in the process of testing systemic delivery. Currently, their most promising approach is based on nanotechnology developed to deliver a mRNA cocktail to tissues - accurately and without invoking an adverse immune response.
Accelerating Drug Discovery: Viscient
Founded and staffed by a team composed of former Organovo and Ardea Biosciences scientists and entrepreneurs, Viscient is driving a revolution in drug discovery, overthrowing the old paradigm of discovery in animal models. It is our conviction that the age of using mice as the primary research model for biotech is rapidly passing, to be replaced by tissue engineered organoids. Methuselah's goal in investing in Viscient is to drive the actual use of human 3D printed tissue models, and through their demonstrated vast superiority to animal models, lead in reorienting the industry and the regulators away from animal testing and to more efficient, effective, and relevant models of disease.